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BP to pull out of US wind power

UNITED STATES: BP has announced it is putting its wind division, including around 2.6GW of projects, up for sale so it can focus on oil and gas.

In a statement about the decision, the company said: "BP has decided to market for sale our US wind energy business as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company and re-position the company for sustainable growth into the future.

"For BP, this effort represents another example of prudent and active management of our global portfolio, consistent with our pledge to unlock more value for shareholders."

BP's wind portfolio is all onshore and based solely in the US. In addition to the installed capacity, it includes a 2GW pipeline.

Major projects include Fowler Ridge 1,2 and 3 in Indiana, which exceeds 500MW. Another is the Mohave County project in Arizona with a capacity of 425MW.

In January last year, BP announced a $1 billion deal with Sempra Energy to build a pair of American wind farms totalling 560MW. However, since then its wind activities have been limited.

One potential issue surrounding the projects could be that a large number of them use Clipper Windpower turbines. BP had signed a 4,265MW "sugar daddy" supply agreement with the company in 2006.

Clipper has effectively ceased turbine production and is involved in a dispute with developer First Wind over a turbine down payment. Energy company NextEra has also been involved, saying that Clipper was in breach of its warranty obligations — but that the situation would be exacerbated if Clipper was forced into involuntary bankruptcy because First Wind succeeded in freezing its assets.

Although BP has been involved with wind since the 1990s, the company made its first push into utility-scale wind power in 2002 with a 22.5MW project in the Netherlands jointly developed with ChevronTexaco.

Since then, BP's wind portfolio has become focused on the US. In 2011, BP told Windpower Monthly this was because of the country's favourable onshore wind conditions and positive public policy, meaning the production tax incentive.

Speaking about BP's original decision to invest, former BP chairman Lord Browne said: "Wind energy was a profitable low-carbon business in line with BP's broader strategy at the time."

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